I was but what you’d brush
with your palm, what your leaning
brow would hunch to in evening’s
I was but what your gaze
in that dark could distinguish:
a dim shape to begin with,
later – features, a face.
It was you, on my right,
on my left, with your heated
sighs, who molded my helix,
whispering at my side.
It was you by that black
window’s trembling tulle pattern
who laid in my raw cavern
a voice calling you back.
I was practically blind.
You, appearing, then hiding,
gave me my sight and heightened
it. Thus some leave behind
a trace. Thus they make worlds.
Thus, having done so, at random
wastefully they abandon
their work to its whirls.
Thus, prey to speeds
of light, heat, cold, or darkness,
a sphere in space without markers
spins and spins.
“Seven Strophes” from COLLECTED POEMS IN ENGLISH
by Joseph Brodsky.
Copyright © 2000 by the Estate of Joseph Brodsky.
Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.
All rights reserved.
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Poem selected by the Nobel Library of the Swedish Academy.
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